Review

Review – A Single Step

Review – A Single Step

Single step indeed!

Background

In 2012, Trek BBS held a monthly fan fiction challenge called “Meet the Neighbors”. The idea was to show a first contact.

I decided to pull in a few elements and bring them together. They are from canon and fan fiction, films, and television.

In the Star Trek First Contact TNG film,Zefram Cochrane the Borg almost assimilated us before we ever got the first Warp One ship in the air (the Phoenix). Furthermore, it shows, at the end, Zefram Cochrane and Lily Sloane joining hands.

In the Original Series, Zefram Cochrane is later found on Gamma Canaris. He’s single, and he is older. But he is  kept young by a mysterious companion. In the Animated Series, there are the Caitians, but their First Contact is not in canon. Furthermore, I have a non-sentient original species called the Derellian bat. This bat has been in all sorts of places – in ReversalTemperThrowing Rocks at Looking Glass Houses and Intolerance, just to name a few.

Plot

The story begins with Lily and Zefram, an aged couple living their final years on the Alpha Centauri Colony. But all is not right, as Lily coughs a lot, and tires easily. She’s dying of lung cancer.

Review – A Single Step

Lily Sloane Cochrane (Alfre Woodard)

There is a light in the sky, and a crash. They go to investigate, and it turns out that an alien ship has arrived. The hatch is opened. And there is a most curious creature. M’Roan looks like a cat, but he’s wearing clothing and he’s about the same size as Lily and Zef. He’s also bipedal. He has a small wound. So the Derellian bat shows off a little minor empathic healing qualities and closes up the wound.

M’Roan sees too deeply into Zef’s life, but that is the basis of a friendship. And, in the end, he and Zef take the bat and take off, for “the second nebula on the right and parts unknown“.

Story Postings

Rating

The story has a K rating.

Upshot

Review – A Single Step

M’Roan, a Caitian

I enjoyed putting this one together, and I liked the portrayal of an older couple very much. This is also, currently, one of the few death scenes I’ve written where the dying character does not see a transition. Or at least she does not describe it.

I also think the wrapping together of the film, the three series, one film and fanfiction all works together. Jonathan Archer also gets a shout out, making this story, in reality, a quintuple crossover. I really like it.

Posted by jespah in Fan fiction, In Between Days series, Review, 13 comments

Review – Demotion

Review – Demotion

Demotion sets up two separate story lines.

Background

This is a story to nicely bridge between Star Trek: Enterprise canon and the beginning of both E2 kick backs in time. There was a prompt about going AWOL, so there was the opportunity. I decided to dovetail with the canon Hatchery episode.

Heroes and Villains

Review – Demotion

Corporal’s insignia

There have been so many slash stories written about Major Hayes, it’s not funny. But I have never seen him as gay, so I wanted to riff on that a bit. So I wanted see what it would be like for Hayes to be mistakenly confronted with homosexuality. Furthermore, I wanted the person doing the confronting to be nasty about it. It wouldn’t be a little question, gently asked. Instead, it would be accusatory. It would be like an inquisition. In short, I wanted it to be like Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Review – Demotion

The story opens with Corporal Daniel Chang combing his hair and otherwise getting ready for an assignation with Sandra Sloane. He’s guarding T’Pol, and he’s fine with that. But then Hayes tells him to guard her again. But Chang decides he has had enough. Ignoring Hayes’s orders, he instead goes to Sandra’s quarters. He is close to the door but hasn’t hit the chime or knocked yet.

Review – Demotion

Private’s Insignia

Hayes, nearby, calls him by name and tells him to report to the galley for KP duty as a punishment. Lili and Jennifer are walking by, and they see what’s happening, so they turn to go a different way. They come back quickly, though. It’s when they hear the sound of fabric being torn.

Story Postings

Rating

The story has a K rating.

Upshot

So it’s a quick story, with fewer than 800 words. But I feel it nicely makes my point I had to establish Chang and Sloane as problem children before either kick back in time. I think Demotion does that.

Posted by jespah in In Between Days series, Review, 12 comments

Review – Letters from Home

Letters from Home

Letters …

Origins

Review – Letters from Home

Mail Call at Stalag 17

One of my all-time favorite films is Stalag 17. And there is a scene where a fellow named Harry Shapiro receives a bunch of mail. It is far more than anyone else. So they ask him how that’s possible. Because none of them can believe it. Why should he get all the mail?

Harry strongly implies that the mail is from girls, and refers to himself as “Sugar Lips” Shapiro. He keeps up the ruse for a few minutes.

But then his friend, Stanislaus (“Animal”) Kuzawa, grabs one piece of mail and starts reading it. So it turns out, the mail is all from a finance company. Shapiro’s Plymouth is being repossessed.

The Tie to Star Trek

Review – Letters from Home

Star Trek: Enterprise establishes, in canon, that commerce and trade are still conducted, and people are still using money. Hence the time period works out rather nicely.

Furthermore, there are still automobiles (Tripp Tucker refers to driving an old girlfriend to Chatkin Point). Hence I knew I wanted Tucker for this story, which was in response to a prompt about letters from home. The mail, I decided, would be reflective of Harry Shapiro’s own travails with a finance company.

So for Tripp, the finance company contacts him after the Xindi attack. Of course, he’s more than a little put out by this. And the exasperating correspondence thereby begins ….

Story Postings

Rating

The story has a K rating.

Upshot

I like how this one turned out. It’s got a bit of comedy as things go more and more over the top. I also think I ended it at the right point. Any more and the reader might’ve started to feel sorry for the finance company.


You can find me on .

Posted by jespah in Fan fiction, In Between Days series, Review, 4 comments

Review – Concord

Review – Concord

Concord is a favorite.

Origins

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Concord

Concord

The prompt was about “a page from the past”. I had long thought about dropping a Star Trek: Enterprise character into the extreme past, and had even done this with a pair of TNG characters, in Crackerjack.

But I wanted to go back even further, so I hit upon the start of the American Revolution and a local pair of battles – Lexington and Concord.

And what better person to toss into that pressure cooker than someone who would be in trouble the minute he opened his mouth?

Enter Malcolm Reed.

Plot Points

The Premise

Reed is unceremoniously dumped right into the middle of the Battle of Lexington, and that’s only the start of his troubles.

An Injury

Because he’s wholly unprepared for this form of warfare, he becomes injured, but not horribly so. However, in 1775, infected injuries could easily result in a loss of limb or life. I deliberately made it so that the surgeon in the regiment had already died, and the village doctor had joined the militia. These absences meant that Malcolm would have to be treated in some other fashion.

At the same time, the man next to him, Robert Lennox, is a lot worse off, and may die.

A Place to Go

Review – Concord

The quartering of troops is very real to history, and so I had Malcolm’s commanding officer push for a farmhouse to accept the two injured men. Malcolm is apologetic at the same time that his commander – the true to history Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith – is rude and blustery. The mistress of the farmhouse accepts the two wounded men as she has very little choice in the matter. She is a colonial and is sympathetic to the revolutionary cause. Her husband has even gone to fight for it. But she is alone and is not about to let Malcolm or Robert die on her doorstep.

Some Soon to be Familiar Names

The mistress of the house introduces herself as Charlotte Hayes, wife to Jacob Hayes. She and her servant, Benjamin Warren, keep the home and assist the two wounded men.

Because the Concord story begins right before Voracious, the names O’Day and Hayes are not yet familiar to the characters. Furthermore, the name Warren also figures in my stories. In Crackerjack, Wesley’s wife’s maiden name is Warren. And in the E2 stories, there is a Science crewman with the name of Nyota Warren, who ends up with canon character Billy Dane. Benjamin is an ancestor of them just like Charlotte and Jacob are ancestors to Lili and Jay (thereby making Jay and Lili distant cousins).

How Did He Get There? And How Does He Get Back?

Without giving away too many spoilers, suffice it to say that Malcolm’s presence in 1775 is due to a defective temporal experiment.  His return can only happen if the experimenters figuring out the problem, and solve it.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

I love how the historical aspects worked out. I did a great deal of research in order to understand how the farm would run, what things would cost and any number of other details. The story was extremely satisfying to put together. And it is easily one of my absolute favorites.

Posted by jespah in Fan fiction, In Between Days series, Interphases series, Review, 26 comments

Review – There’s Something About Hoshi

Review – There’s Something About Hoshi

What about Hoshi?

Background

So back in 2005, I wrote an initial five Star Trek: Enterprise fan fiction stories. I centered them all around the five senses. More, More, More was about hearing. The Puzzle (which was a more complex and ambitious tale) was about sight. The Adventures of Porthos took on smell. And If You Can’t Stand the Heat was about taste.

Hence There’s Something About Hoshi was about touch and, by extension, feelings.

Plot

The story begins with Hoshi Sato being courted by Ted Stone. But he’s a somewhat inept suitor, and keeps missing his marks. He tries to be romantic but can’t quite get it right. Hoshi fears she is settling, and references the canon E2 episode where she settled for “old what’s his name” (Sekar Khan, the Quartermaster).

The Enterprise is contacted by an unknown species, the Arisians. They notice her on the Bridge and their communications are inept enough that everyone can hear one of them mentioning his astonishment that there is a woman. They create a pretext for Hoshi to come to the surface. She agrees even though everyone that the Enterprise sees on Aris seems to be male.

MACOs

About hoshi

Hoshi (Linda Park) dressed for the evening

A pair of MACOs accompany Hoshi, and it becomes clear that they are a gay couple. Friends of hers, they compliment her on her choice of attire for the evening. It’s confirmed that Frank Todd will be one of the MACOs going to the surface (Frank also shows up in Shell Shock and in the E2 stories), as will his boss, Major Dawson (Dawson is also a part of Shell Shock and is the replacement for Jay Hayes).

A visit to the planet confirms that everyone is male. Milit, an Arisian, tells the landing party (in addition to Hoshi, Corporal Todd and Major Dawson, Travis Mayweather, Jonathan Archer and Malcolm Reed are present) that, long ago, the men of his species researched how to decrease gestation until eventually they could accomplish all of it without women. Once accomplished, they allowed all of the women to die out and only cloned males. Hoshi realizes, uncomfortably, that she is the only woman on the entire planet.

Pretext

Review – There’s Something About Hoshi

Hieroglyphics at mesa pintada

Then she asks to see hieroglyphics, which were the pretext for getting her to the surface. So Todd and an Arisian, Lio, accompany her to where the hieroglyphics supposedly are. Todd and Hoshi are overcome and her hormones are extracted via syringe. However, Lio and his cohorts also inject her and Corporal Todd with something else.

By the time Hoshi returns to the ship, she is suddenly irresistible to all of the men on board (and a few women as well), but not Corporal Todd as his preference doesn’t go that way. Harassed and scared, even the captain gets in on bothering her, leering at her on the Bridge as various other male crew members make all sorts of passes at her until the Arisians can make things right again.

Story Postings

Rating

The story has a K rating.

Upshot

I played the story for humor. While it’s still funny, seven years of hindsight give me another perspective. In a lot of ways, it’s kind of creepy, the way that everyone is throwing themselves at her. The character was in very real danger of sexual assault. If I were writing the story today, I would probably amp up the fear more, and downplay more of the humor.

Posted by jespah in Fan fiction, In Between Days series, Review, 21 comments

Review – A Kind of Blue

Review – A Kind of Blue

Blue does not have to mean sadness.

Background

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Lili| Naomi Watts | pregnant

Lili (image of Naomi Watts is for educational purposes only)

In Reversal, I establish that Lili O’Day‘s favorite color is blue. Reversal also, happily, ends up with Doug and Lili more or less riding off into the sunset.

At least, that was the original idea.

But then came the fanfiction prequels and the sequels.

Bridge Stories and Prequels

Reversal is a prequel to A Kind of Blue, but so is Local Flavor, which begins Doug and Lili’s life on Lafa II and begins to establish some of the background. That is, they are new on Lafa II, their only friends are Treve and his family, and they barely have two nickels to rub together. All of this is played out against the backdrop of being the only humans in the entire Lafa System. Plus the Calafans all seem to be on the make.

Plot

Review – A Kind of Blue

Positive Pregnancy Test

This story came about in response to a challenge to write a happy story. So I went with the color as an indicator of sadness but, also, of far different things. For Lili, the first indicator is this one. And it works with the stories. This is because one of the bits of information from Reversal is that Doug is powerful enough that he’s probably going to be able to get by her birth control.

What is also established is that she’d need to have surgery, and have the operation known as The O’Day Reversal put back in order to be able to successfully carry a fetus to term. With Lili pregnant (and experiencing wicked morning sickness), the first stop is Doctor Miva‘s office, but before they can go anywhere, Doug drops the stick on the floor of their apartment. He suddenly realizes he’s on bended knee, so he proposes.

The remainder of the story is the surgery and then their wedding, which includes Calafan wedding vows and surprise rings purchased by Doug.

Rating

The story is rated K.

Sequels

Review – A Kind of Blue

Pregnant Naomi Watts as Lili

With a wedding and a baby come other responsibilities. But there’s still time to visit friends in Friday Visit, and Pacing and The Gift both advance the Becketts’ lives together even more.

In addition, the new restaurant, Reversal, opens up. Lili and Doug can barely look up, and there is no time to do renovations and put in a bigger and more modern stove until the couple depart for a vacation to Oberon for Jenny and Frank‘s wedding, which Lili will cater (Together).

Story Postings

Upshot

The color blue does not have to mean sadness. And in this case, that’s the last thing from anyone’s mind.

Posted by jespah in Fan fiction, In Between Days series, Review, 10 comments
Review – Intolerance

Review – Intolerance

Story Origins

Intolerance comes from dark places.

A friend suggested to me as I was first starting to write Star Trek: Enterprise fanfiction – get Malcolm Reed to loosen up. I bet, down deep, he’s kinky. And so the gauntlet was thrown down. Challenge accepted.

Intolerance Plot

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Intolerance

Intolerance

It began with a fairly simple premise, to get an intriguing woman on the ship. Then I decided to add interest by adding a few women. And then the idea progressed to one of a kind of a competition.

Hence I decided that it would be a small medical residential rotation. The specialty would be Immunology. In order to minimize complexity, I decided on five students. In order to add a little Shakespearean-style chaos, one (and their instructor) would have an ambiguous enough name that gender could not be readily and immediately known.

Then the fun begins. Travis hears that there are five students coming. Three, he figures, are female. He tells Malcolm and Tripplet’s compete for them. They draw straws in order to determine who they’ll go after. Tripp wins the first draw and selects Pamela Hudson. Travis gets the second draw and decides on Blair Claymore. Malcolm is forced to settle for who he thinks will be An Nguyen. But this is the ambiguity, for An is a guy (this was also intended as a play on Reed often being depicted as gay in fan fiction). The instructor, Bernie Keating-Fong, is really Bernardine. But she’s older, and is wearing a wedding ring. It seems that Malcolm is the odd man out.

But Malcolm has a major trick up his sleeve, and writes Pamela poetry.

However, all is not right, not with Pamela, and not with the ship. Without giving away any more of the plot, suffice it to say that it is a rather odd story. It’s difficult to summarize without giving up all manner of spoilers.

Music

Amy Winehouse

Cover of Amy Winehouse

Chip and Aidan show the film Dirty Dancing and the discussion that ensues is a small plot point. It also introduces some of the music, such as Mickey and Sylvia‘s Love is Strange and The Ronettes Be My Baby. But Pamela herself has her own music – Amy Winehouse‘s You Know I’m No Good.

Story Postings

Rating

There are two versions of this story. The version of Intolerance on Ad Astra is rated M. The version of Intolerance on Fanfiction.net is rated T. The difference is the explicitness of the more intimate scenes.

Upshot

British actor Dominic Keating, DragonCon 2008

British actor Dominic Keating, DragonCon 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This story is a bit of a detour. Of the main books in the In Between Days series, it’s more of a left turn than anything else. It is ostensibly Malcolm’s story in the same way that Reversal is Lili‘s story, Together is Melissa‘s, Temper is Doug‘s and Fortune is Leonora‘s, but it’s also very much Pamela‘s story (as is Saturn Rise). Plus Malcolm is revealed in many other tales that I’ve written since then.

Frankly, Intolerance doesn’t get a lot of love, too, and its read counts are sometimes lower than those of the others. Some of that may be due to the fact that it’s the shortest of the major books, with the fewest number of chapters. But I have reread it (I reread everything) and don’t think anything could truly be added. I like its tight editing. It does very little meandering, whereas Reversal and Fortune in particular sometimes wander off and away from their main plot lines.

Kaley Cuoco

Kaley Cuoco

A lot of the elements turn out well, I feel, but maybe it was too much of a departure. I don’t know. I have been happy to use it as a jumping-off point for other works, such as Together and The Cure is Worse Than the Disease. Truth be told, it may hold up better than most of what I’ve written.

Posted by jespah in Fan fiction, In Between Days series, Review, 56 comments

Review – Broken Seal

Broken Seal Background

Broken seal?

So Broken Seal was written in response to a monthly challenge about silence. It takes place in the In Between Days time period and the Prime Universe, after Together and before The Cure is Worse than the Disease.

Premise

So I knew that my competition would be mainly writing sad stories, as silence tends to lead one in that direction. Hence I decided to zig instead of zag, and went for a comedy.

The Seventh Seal broken seal

The Seventh Seal

It’s Movie Night, and Chip Masterson has been touting The Seventh Seal  all week. It’s going to be a celebration of highbrow culture. He’s excited as he’s the biggest film buff on the ship. He’s going to have a discussion and everything.

Meanwhile, Tripp Tucker is trying to reconcile with T’Pol. So he’s using the occasion of the film as a means to get back into her good graces. Hence he figures that an intellectual date will really appeal to her.

Malcolm is excited about the film as he wants to watch it and compare notes with his girl afterwards. But she is at home, so this is a kind of date for them as well, and she assures him that she will dress up and everything.

It All Goes Haywire

However, all is not right, for Hoshi Sato has been hit with a tiny spatial anomaly. And so she makes plans to derail the film’s showing. She enlists Travis‘s help, and she splices a very different film onto The Seventh Seal. And this changes its ending dramatically.

Bambi Woods - not the star of The Seventh Seal broken seal

Bambi Woods – not the star of The Seventh Seal

But the projectionist, Aidan MacKenzie, doesn’t suspect a thing. So he just loads the film and then more or less dozes off, bored by the Bergman film. And the MACOs are watching; Jonathan Archer is watching; Jenny from Engineering is watching, and suddenly the film’s plot is changed considerably. Jonathan calls off the evening and yells for Masterson and MacKenzie to join him in his Ready Room. And they are in big, big trouble.

Hence Malcolm confirms with his girl – this isn’t the ending of The Seventh Seal at all.

So – whodunit? Who messed up the film? Will Hoshi confess? Stay tuned.

Story Postings

Rating

While the story is rated K, it does refer to an NC-17-rated film.

Upshot

While I like the comedy aspects of it, I think I could have amped it up even more. Hence I think I should have played up Chip’s pain and fear that he’d lose his Ensign’s rank even more.

Posted by jespah in In Between Days series, Review, 9 comments

Review – Coveted Commodity

Review – Coveted Commodity

Coveted commodity?

Background

I originally wrote Coveted Commodity as a response to a Trek BBS challenge about a new day dawning. I decided to put a mirror universe spin on it, and so I went with the mirror Travis making a turning point type of decision in his life.

Story Highlights

Mirror Travis Coveted Commodity

Mirror Travis

The tale begins with Travis Mayweather sitting in Sick Bay, waiting for … something. The Derellian bat makes another appearance; its loud shriek causes Travis to unsheathe his sidearm, “ready to shoot that damned bat”. But who or what is Travis waiting for?

The exposition brings it together, that he is waiting on Empress Hoshi. She is pregnant with his child. And there are complications.

For people in the mirror universe, particularly men, signs of weakness are not only degrading, they’re downright dangerous. Hence what is happening to Travis’s son could not only harm the child at that time and later, it could also harm Travis’s own standing.

Plus, this is not the Empress’s first child. That honor is reserved for Jun Daniels Sato. This is, instead, Hoshi’s sixth.

Travis begins the story indifferent as to outcomes. But he becomes mightily interested once it becomes clear that the fetus has issues. Furthermore, Doctor Morgan gives him a choice – allow the surgery (the fetus has a hole in his heart that must be repaired in utero), but also allow the doctor to kill off Hoshi. The doctor’s tempting offer is a corker – end Hoshi’s reign of terror, but also kill off your own son; kill off your son due to inaction on your part; or allow the surgery and allow Hoshi to live.

Travis’s Choice

Travis chooses the latter option. His new day dawning is that he decides he wants to be a father. This is in keeping with the way I have written mirror universe men. The way I write them, they are violent but they are also good fathers. They want their children to survive, and will do anything to assure that (including violence). Hence Travis’s sole option is to permit the surgery but not allow the doctor to kill (or fail to resuscitate) Hoshi on the table.

In Temper, it is revealed that the choice works for the child (Izo) but Travis is not allowed to enjoy the fruits of his choice. Time is somewhat incoherent in Temper, but the events occur after the surgery and, in the alternate timelines and in the restored proper timeline, Travis meets his end.

Story Postings

Rating

Although the story does have some adult elements (Hoshi is a woman with children from multiple fathers), the rating is K.

Upshot

I think execution was pretty good on this one. Once again, much like in First Born, a mirror child’s life hangs in the balance, and the father must make the right choice so that the child may survive.

Posted by jespah in Fan fiction, Hall of Mirrors, In Between Days series, Review, 11 comments

Review – And the Livin’ is Easy

Review – And the Livin’ is Easy

And the livin’ is easy? That can only mean one thing: summertime.

Background

So I originally wrote this story as a response to a prompt about the seasons. I had already written a story about winter, called A Hazy Shade. That one was somewhat depressing. I wanted something cheerier, so I thought of the summertime, and so And the Livin’ is Easy was born.

Plot Elements

As a missing scene from the canon Star Trek: Enterprise episode Two Days and Two Nights, I wanted to obliquely introduce the Calafans without beating the reader over the head with that. Hence, in this little ficlet, Jonathan Archer is engaging in a little girl watching.

There are two women in his sights. They are chatting together, but are not on Risa together on vacation. Rather, it’s more like they met there and got along so they are doing a little quick touring together.

Canon-ish

Review – And the Livin' is Easy

Archer IV fish

In the canon Star Trek: Enterprise episode, Archer refers to a boat ride where fish are caught and cooked for you right there. Since that boat ride is never seen, I seized the opportunity to show it. So he is on a bench and the two women are nearby, chatting. One is a Trill, but not named. I never meant it to be a first contact or canon-busting story at all. The other is a Calafan, recognizable from my Star Trek fanfiction as she has silvery scrollwork on her arms and speaks with an Irish brogue.

Jonathan speaks with them and asks them to show him around, but unfortunately they tell him they are leaving the following day.

Story Postings

Rating

The story has a K rating.

Upshot

I just wrote the story as a gentle summery kind of scene. I think it makes a sweet little prequel tale.

Posted by jespah in Fan fiction, In Between Days series, Review, 4 comments